About Thomas Fitzgerald

Thomas is a professional fine art photographer and writer specialising in photography related instructional books as well as travel writing and street photography. 

Editorial - New Mirrorless Cameras: It’s about choice

Editorial - New Mirrorless Cameras: It’s about choice

With the release of new mirrorless camera options from Nikon and Canon, there has been a lot of discussions about the various specs and pros and cons of these new cameras. Now that the initial craziness has died down a bit we’re starting to see reactions from those actually using these cameras, and for the most part the opinion from those with real world experience seems to be mostly positive. Something struck me though when reading some of the reviews, and also reading some comments on my own content, is that people may be missing the most important thing about these releases: Its about choice.

Until last month, if you wanted a full frame mirrorless camera, your choice was pretty much Sony (or Leica, if you were really rich). Otherwise you had the option of APS-C or Micro 4:3. The choices were limited. If you did want to go Full Frame, you were left with Sony’s cameras. As much as I like Sony’s cameras, they do have some bad points, as many people have pointed out over the years. Ergonomics for one, is not Sony’s strong point. Now, for some people that’s not important, but for others it is. There’s also the issue of “Sony Colours” — again, this isn’t an issue for some, but it is for others.

Not everyone has the same priorities when choosing a camera. Some people like different things. Now if you want to go mirrorless, you have a choice. Do you prefer Nikon colours, now you can choose Nikon. If you prefer Canon’s colour science? — choose Canon. Do you want a full frame camera with a flip around screen for vlogging — but don’t necessarily need full frame 4K — The Eos-R is perfect for that. Want a high speed camera for sports — Sony have you covered. And this is just the start. If you want to stick with DSLR — you have that choice too. Don’t need or don’t want full frame? — you have lots of choices. But the important thing is that YOU have the choice, and its YOURchoice.

Unfortunately some people don’t seem to understand that. Some people seem to think that you shouldn’t even have the choice to choose full frame if you want to, or that said choice is invalid, just because their favourite camera company (Fuji, for example) doesn’t make a full frame camera. Photography is a vast and varied field, and there are many types of shooter within that, all with different preferences, all of which are valid. Artists generally choose the tool that suits them best, not the one that someone else thinks that they should have. Telling someone that has been shooting for twenty or thirty years that their preference is invalid because you don’t think that they should need it, isn’t doing your favourite brand any favours. This is where die hard brand loyalty puts people off the brand.

And before someone accuses me of being anti-Fuji, I’m not just talking about Fuji here, I’ve seen similar commentary from Micro 4:3 fans. Even the management at Fuji is beginning to get this I suspect. I’ve noticed that they have changed their PR answer on only producing APS-C and Medium format. Previously company execs have said that APS-C was all that you needed and that their X-Trans was as good or better than full frame. Recent commentary from the company has taken a decidedly less confrontational tone that: “APS-C offers the ideal compromise between size and quality.” This is a big difference, and a far more reasonable argument. Not everyone needs or wants the smallest and lightest camera though. And even though you may disagree personally, a lot of people want full frame.

This is a perfectly valid choice. You may not agree, but maybe don’t patronise those of us who do by telling us that only “gear heads” care about full frame. There’s a reason it’s the choice of National Geographic shooters, and Time Magazine shooters, and Award winning Photo Journalists and award winning fashion photographers, and pretty much most of the industry. Are all these seasoned photographers just gear heads too? No. In reality they don’t actually care about this debate, they just want tool that suits their needs, and in most of these cases it’s a full frame camera. Is there anything wrong with APS-C? Absolutely not. If that’s your choice, that’s great and that too is perfectly valid, but it’s your choice, and respecting that goes both ways.

Here’s a fun fact, just as a side point. I’ve been lucky enough to work as a designer and a photographer, and because of that, I’ve worked with lots of professional photographers over the years and received lots of photos from photographers to work with, going back to my first job in the industry which was scanning film. Here’s what a lot of people don’t realise. Most photographers that I’ve known are anything but “gear heads”. The majority aren’t that technically minded when it comes to the nerdy side of cameras and computers. They know their own cameras inside and out sure, but they don’t care about specs or the nerdy details. They just shoot and get on with it. Thats why it really annoys me when people use the “gear heads” trope. In the professional space, it’s just not the case.

The major manufacturers get this. Thats why they offer a range of options, both mirrorless and dslr, cropped sensor and full frame. They know what their customers want and they offer them a choice. They may have been slow coming around to mirrorless, but they aren’t market leaders for nothing. They could see what was selling and what wasn’t, and they could see the market shifting, so they’re now offering their customers a choice in order to keep them in the brand. People also need to realise that the Nikon Z series and the Canon R series wasn’t created overnight. This has been in planning and development for several years. Some have commented that these new cameras are just reactionary, but these weren’t made overnight, it is a long term project. In the end everyone gains from this. The competition has made it a far more interesting market, and we are only at the beginning of this transition.

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The Gear I use Regularly

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